Lately I’ve been thinking about how much I’m on the computer. The internet more specifically. I was away for a week recently and while I had my phone, I didn’t use a computer the entire time. I felt different. More relaxed, less anxious.
I’m on the computer a lot, every day. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my email. I use the computer at work all day and then in the evening spend time working on website related stuff, checking in on Facebook and checking my email. I’ve played around with setting up boundaries for myself around my internet use. For instance, I’ve been trying to tell myself that I won’t check my email or social media after 7:30 p.m. in order to give myself a better balance. The evenings that I successfully stay off the web I find that it’s easier for me to go to sleep and I wake up less anxious the next morning.
But more often than not, I still find myself checking my phone at night to see if I have any emails. I say to myself that someone might NEED something from me! What if one of my writers needs help with their post? What if someone needs me for something immediate? I know those aren’t rational thoughts. The reality is that even if someone does need me for something, there’s nothing wrong with waiting till the next day to get back to them. But that what if mentality is hard for me to overcome. And it causes me a lot of anxiety. Maybe I struggle with this because I also struggle with a life-long case of perfectionism. Maybe to me, part of being a perfect person is getting back to people ASAP.
Another component of this that’s been on my mind is that I think I’ve kind of replaced real, in-person relationship with virtual ones. Not that virtual friendship are bad, not at all. But I feel like I’m missing that real connection with people sometimes. The other day I had lunch with a friend that I haven’t seen in months and it was so wonderful! It was refreshing to see her face-to-face. To have our conversation flow naturally, unedited. To feel more connected to her than when we catch up online.
I’m not a phone talker, I just don’t like it. I tend to rely on texting & Facebook to communicate with my friends but in doing so I think I’m missing something. Since becoming a mom my natural tendency to want to stay home in my PJs has only gotten stronger (I’m definitely an introvert) and I haven’t made seeing my friends in person a big priority. I’ve used the internet as a crutch in maintaining my relationships because it seems easier and also because I haven’t liked not being home when my daughter goes to sleep (if I were to go out in the evening).
But I need to find a better balance for myself. My internet related anxiety is a problem – that feeling of I MUST check my email 50 times a day because WHAT IF SOMEONE NEEDS ME is something I really need to work on. And I really do want to feel more connected to people and foster my real life relationships a bit better.
In a day and age where the internet is literally at our fingertips whenever we want it, it can be hard to remember that life on the internet isn’t real life. It’s part of life, yes. But life is really about so much more.
Photo: Me running in the woods – one of the few places that really helps me feel recharged.